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 The PDs - A Post Mortem

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PostSubject: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:16 pm

I missed out on the formation of the PDs and their early progress. The end of the PDs, which I have witnessed, has been long drawn out and it appears they will go with more of a whimper that a bang.

Time to get the scalpels out, and carry out the post mortem. Anyone willing to make the first incision?


Last edited by cactus flower on Sun Sep 14, 2008 8:33 pm; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : explained in thread)
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:24 pm

cactus flower wrote:
I missed out on the formation of the PDs and their early progress. The end of the PDs, which I have witnessed, has been long drawn out and it appears they will go with more of a whimper that a bang.

Time to get the scalpels out, and carry out the post mortem. Anyone willing to make the first incision?

Oh, I think the electorate did quite a lot of that already...
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:30 pm

ibis wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
I missed out on the formation of the PDs and their early progress. The end of the PDs, which I have witnessed, has been long drawn out and it appears they will go with more of a whimper that a bang.

Time to get the scalpels out, and carry out the post mortem. Anyone willing to make the first incision?

Oh, I think the electorate did quite a lot of that already...

Ha! Twisted Evil

But why? and why not sooner?
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:35 pm

They were a hugely influential force in Irish politics for a long period. That is beyond doubt and the fact many of their core policies became standard manifesto fodder for all parties is indicative of that success.

That said, I really do find it difficult to understand why either Ciaran Cannon or Fiona O'Malley wanted to take on the leadership of the party. I think the last election proved that they are quite simply out of ideas. I don't necessarily believe that should be used as a stick with which to beat the PDs - what other party can claim to have had their policies implemented so comprehensively in Irish politics?

From a campaign point of view, they were very poor at ring-fencing their core vote - if such a thing ever existed for the PDs.

Ultimately they went the way of all small parties in Ireland - albeit with a tick beside most of the aspirations that they listed over twenty years ago.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:42 pm

I suspect a core vote did exist, but it was never more than 4 or 5%. It is arguable if the PDs ever really became a party independent of FF. They offered FF the opportunity of implementing free market right wing economic policies whilst having someone else to blame if things went badly.
Is it possible to image the PDs in government without FF, or in any other coalition?
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:53 pm

I think, pound for pound, the Progressive Democrats have been the most influential and powerful party of the last two decades. They have been in government longer than any other party except Fianna Fáil and they are the catalyst for the low-tax economy we now enjoy.

In the early years, they represented a fresh and exciting blend of liberal social and economic policies. Dynamic political thinkers like Des O'Malley and Mary Harney were able, on a much greater level, implement new and successful policy.

In recent times, the PDs have been a successful inhibitor of SF. Michael McDowell was particularly valuable in this regard. His assertive and un-abashed reminders to the Irish people of the sort of party which sat across the chamber from him kept manners on SF and dissuaded voters from voting for them.

They were not without their faults. Cold and aloof individuals like McDowell and O'Donnell were not suitable to the task of building the party. Equally, they were incapable of developing and retaining talent like Colm O'Gorman.

It will be a dark day for Irish politics if and when they cease offering the public the chance to vote for them, but they must remember that their misfortune is of their own making.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:03 pm

A-T I would agree with that analysis. Although I disagree that it will be a dark day for Irish politics when they fold up their tent - have they not achieved what they set out to do?

Had their strategy during the last election not been so incredibly poor then they certainly could have held on to another two seats. Had Parlon and McDowell held on to their seats there might have been an opportunity for a rethink and a change of direction. Their candidate selection strategy was truly awful and they essentially ran to campaigns along an urban and rural divide.

They were incredibly successful at implementing their economic vision but I don't think they did a particularly good job of promoting and working for the 'social' liberal agenda.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:27 pm

In fairness to the PDs, and I`m no fan of theirs, but you could easily ask the question how did the PDs manage to survive as long as they did? They were down to six and four seats after two different general elections and they were in serious trouble. What saved them on those occasions was getting into government but their luck was bound to run out eventually. I think five factors caught up to them eventually

1. Michael McDowell. He`s despised in many quarters. Politics is a popularity contest and while an aggresive, obnoxious leader won`t turn off your core vote it will alienate transfers.

2. The retirement of older more senior people like Dessie O`Malley and Bobby Molloy was bound to weaken any party.

3. Fiona O`Malley, mae Sexton, Tim o`Malley and Tom Parlon weren`t overly impressive publicly that`s not a comment on how hard-working they were, how honest etc. but as someone who doesn`t live in any of their constituencies they never struck me as people to set the world alight even on a local level.

4. The small size of the party they are prone to destruction because it only takes a very small swing to put them out of existence.

5. They were too easily labelled. Sinn Féin and the Greens suffer from the same problem.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:35 pm

One factor that can't be dismissed is that the credibility of the PDs as a defender of uprightness and virtue was gradually eroded by their appearing to be joined at the hip with FF, with progressive disillusionment by the public as to whether the PDs had any principles. Whereas morality is not a big vote catcher, it is likely that it would have more important for potential PD voters than for others. Ironically I believe that the PD's, who ran on a "clean" ticket were penalised electorally for corruption more than FF.

Also, the boom gave FF room to attempt to buy off all comers while keeping tax down.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:37 pm

Yeah, Cactus Flower, I considered the whole question of the PDs being punished for FF corruption but to be honest I think it`s overstated. I`d think that the reasons above were more influential than any sort of vengeful electorate.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:45 pm

Do you think it was all a question of personalities and weak tactics, or where there any deeper-going political reasons for the PD's departure at this stage? Is it just a question as posters have said that they have done their job ( and implicitly that FF will not roll anything back )?
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:53 pm

It`s impossible to say really. It was inevitably a combination of all the factors mentioned and I don`t think anyone would argue against that. The only area open to discussion is to what extent different factors were an influence. I would agree that their being pigeon-holed politically as being a watchdog party and the low-taxation party did damage them but I think that they would have been in trouble even if they did manage to sell themselves as a different type of party because of McDowell and the weakness of their candidates.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:55 pm

I think there were a lot of things going against them in 2007.

1. New candidates were mostly weak.

2. Loss of FF transfers because of Michael McDowell's 'will we won't we' attitude to Bertie's finances.

3. Campaign seriously lacked focus.

4. Alienated what remained of the core vote by talking about social welfare increases etc - not the usual PD agenda.

5. When FG go up, PDs go down. In this instance, quite substantially.

6. An obvious urban/rural divide in terms of strategy and focus.

7. Terrible, terrible stunt in Ranelagh that sort of summed up how tired and redundant they were.

8. They went into the election with no economic ministry.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:58 pm

unaligned wrote:

8. They went into the election with no economic ministry.

Good point, not alone that but they went into the election with the two ministeries guaranteed to make you look like an ineffectual fool: Justice and Health.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:58 pm

What happened in Ranelagh?
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:59 pm

Was there not a vote against privatisation of health services?
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:02 pm

[quote="cactus flower"]Was there not a vote against privatisation of health services?

I don`t know to be honest if it was that much of a factor because it`s hard to see how that wouldn`t have hurt Fianna Fáil as well if it was a factor. I`m sure it was for some but I think very few people vote on the basis of a single issue particularly when you consider that PD supporters would be more disposed to privatisation.


Last edited by anmajornarthainig on Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:02 pm

cactus flower wrote:
What happened in Ranelagh?

The 'rumble in Ranelagh'. They launched an exact replica of the very successful 'one party government - no thanks' poster except this time it said 'left wing government - no thanks'.

Then John Gormley came along to further ruin what was already a totally flat publicity stunt. Its on youtube it is quite entertaining!
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:32 pm

Here is the video:

* John Gormley and McDowell have a chat *
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:35 pm

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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 10:35 pm

You beat me to it CF Smile

Thanks Auditor!

you're welcome
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:06 pm

unaligned wrote:
That said, I really do find it difficult to
understand why either Ciaran Cannon or Fiona O'Malley wanted to take on
the leadership of the party.
Without a "leadership" position
both were destined for the dustbin of political history.

Regards...jmcc
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:09 pm

Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
In recent times, the PDs have been a successful
inhibitor of SF.
Ah that old Sindo fiction again. Smile The only
thing that inhibited SF was SF. McDowell was a legend in his own mind.
The electorate were not so fooled.

Regards...jmcc
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:33 am

jmcc wrote:
Ard-Taoiseach wrote:
In recent times, the PDs have been a successful
inhibitor of SF.
Ah that old Sindo fiction again. Smile The only
thing that inhibited SF was SF. McDowell was a legend in his own mind.
The electorate were not so fooled.

Regards...jmcc

I would be inclined to agree. The man was so unfortunate in his manner that anyone might be inclined to sympathise with whoever he criticised.
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PostSubject: Re: The PDs - A Post Mortem   Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:04 pm

The main problem with the PDs is that they lost both their core message and their critical mass. You can survive without one or the other but you can't survive without both.

The question arises whether any other political party has a core message? As far as I can make out, only the Greens have a core message that really differentiates them from others. All the others will try to portray themselves as environmentalists but it is a lower priority for them.

FF, SF and FG all paint themselves as nationalists.
Lab, SF and FF are all socialist.
FF and FG are both rural minded.
FG, Lab & FF are all economic pragmatists.
FF & FG are Christian.
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